NDI's Kenneth Wollack on austerity measures and democratization efforts

Development efforts all over the world are feeling the pinch of budget constraints from traditional donors like the United States.

But funds to support democracy and good governance are holding up better than other programs, according to Kenneth Wollack, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Democratic Institute.

Wollack explained that support for their work, at least from Congress, is still “pretty wide and deep because they are rather inexpensive programs” and lawmakers see the people in transitioning countries need their help.

“They … see that we are responding to the demands of people on the ground, whether they be civil society activists, political party leaders, parliamentarians, government officials and women who are trying to assume greater political leadership in these countries against tremendous odds,” he said during an interview with Devex President Raj Kumar at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.

Wollack admitted that when the Soviet Union fell twenty years ago, the West may have been a “a bit too optimistic” about the prospects of democracy around the world. That is why institutions like NDI must continue supporting efforts to strengthen political institutions and links them to the citizens, so the people will not take to the streets or elect a populist leader “who’ll try to provide easy answers to complex issues.”

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    Carlos Santamaria

    As associate editor for breaking news, Carlos Santamaria supervises Devex's Manila-based news team and the creation of our daily newsletter. Carlos joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.